Our pantry staples series sees us take a look at the ingredients that most people usually have in their kitchens – chickpeas, beans, noodles and the like. This time we're focusing on peanut butter.
It seems like peanut butter has become a very popular staple around the world in recent years. We'd bet that most kitchens have at least one jar in their presses.
Originating in South America, peanuts were first eaten by the Aztec and Incan tribes, who mashed peanuts into a paste to create something close to the peanut butter we know and love today. Peanuts were transported by traders, resulting in the crop being integrated into local cuisines around the world.
Peanut butter has had its origin debated for years. Aside from the Aztecs and Incas, there are several people that its conception can be attributed to, mainly Marcellus Gilmore Edson, Dr John Harvey Kellog and Joseph Rosefield.
In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson patented peanut paste, which involved milling roasted peanuts between two heated surfaces, in Montreal, Canada Several years later, the creator of Kellogg's Cereal, Dr John Harvey Kellogg patented a method of creating peanut butter from raw peanuts which he marketed as a protein substitute for people without teeth. Then in 1922, Joseph Rosefield created a process for making smooth peanut butter with partially hydrogenated oil that prevented the product from separating. In 1928, he began creating his own peanut butter under the name Skippy, which is now one of America's most popular peanut butter brands.
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What is peanut butter?
Peanut butter, in its most basic form, is a spread made from ground peanuts and it comes in both chunky and smooth varieties. In a commercial setting, the peanuts are roasted and their skins are removed before the peanuts are ground into a paste. Other ingredients such as salt, sugar and emulsifiers are often added in order to modify the taste or texture.
The fats in peanut butter are unsaturated meaning it can definitely be incorporated into a healthy diet in moderation. It's also a good source of protein, magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamins B and E.
Buying and storing peanut butter
The best type of peanut butter is made with as close to 100 % peanuts as possible, as these rely on the natural oils and flavours in the peanuts to create the product, instead of relying on added ingredients.
Oil separation is natural in peanut butter, especially those containing just peanuts, so don't be alarmed if you think it has separated; it just needs a good stir to bring it back together. Make sure to store it in a cool, dark place – definitely not the fridge – and you should get a long life out of your peanut butter.
We love peanut butter here at FOOD AND WINE so we have heaps of great recipes to use it in. Some of our favourites include this peanut butter and jelly cake, NutShed's peanut butter granola and this delicious peanut butter popcorn.